Archive for April, 2006

Advertising Execs Are Hypocrites

Friday, April 21st, 2006

by Simon Sinek

As published in April 17th, 2006 issue of BrandWeek


Simon Sinek, founder and CEO of SinekPartners

Photo courtesy of Simon Sinek

If advertising is so effective, why don’t ad agencies advertise? PR firms tout themselves in releases. Event planners throw their own parties. E-marketers use the Internet. These folks all believe in the effectiveness of their disciplines. Do ad agencies disagree?

In an increasingly cynical age of advertising and mass marketing, modern ad agencies work hard to reinforce the value of their product with their clients. “Studies” are whipped up to prove the effectiveness of the medium. And when client budgets are tight, agencies will provide data to show the importance of advertising in a down market. But this “do as I say, not as I do” mentality raises a suspicious eyebrow.

More than advertising, agencies rely quite heavily on pr. Getting mentioned or singled out in Brandweek, Adweek and other prominent newspapers and magazines supports an agency’s ability to drum up business.

When Donny Deutsch took over leadership of the agency his father started, he tried to drive new business with a full page ad in the New York Times. The ad was ineffective at helping Deutsch attract clients. Deutsch abandoned his own product and hired high-priced pr mavens at Rubenstein Associates to raise his profile. And it worked.

In their own defense, agencies may point out that they operate in a business-to-business environment and their product is more effective in a business-to-consumer landscape. But the argument holds no weight because agencies routinely pitch and promote the value of ads to b-to-b clients, too.

If agencies hype the importance of branding campaigns for public companies to enhance their image among investors, why is it that Interpublic, Omnicom, Publicis and WPP don’t support their brand images on Wall Street?

According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, the four holding companies spent a total of $3.7 million to promote themselves in the U.S. in 2005, down 15% from the $4.4 million they spent in 2004.

Considering that agencies recommend their clients spend 10% of their revenues on marketing, the big four are spending .01% of their combined $29.3 billion in global revenue. Mull that for a second or two.

David Ogilvy once admitted, “99% of advertising doesn’t sell much of anything.” He was right. Fact is, most ads today are ineffective. “Effective” advertising can communicate the relevance of a company or product in a buyer’s life, resulting in a visceral response to the message. Most advertising, however, does not create such value (there is some truth behind the old CFO joke that advertising is always on the “L” side of the P&L).

Companies that can quantify a rise in sales when they advertise and a decline when they don’t aren’t necessarily producing effective long-term value. A large contributor to such a correlation between ad spending and sales is based simply on raising awareness. Fact: consumers are more likely to buy a product they’ve heard of vs. one they haven’t. Politicians know this and work hard to build better name recognition.

So if agencies aren’t advertising, why should anyone else? Deutsch built his business without an ad campaign spare that one ad. So have Starbucks, Google and countless others. Two years ago 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, one of America’s fastest growing franchises, relied heavily on pr to sell 50 franchises. They spent only $1,800 in ads versus the hundreds of thousands of dollars other franchisors spent to accomplish the same results.

In truth, it’s what’s in the advertising that is not working. Ad agencies are doing a poor job creating messages that affect long-term value for their clients. Along with the media in which it exists, advertising has been commoditized. Most agencies struggle to justify their own value in a sea of sameness. While they try to sell their clients on their “unique perspective” and their ability to balance “creative and strategy,” other marketing tactics like buzz marketing and targeted pr are delivering long-term, measurable results for marketers and further eroding any perceived value advertising enjoyed.

Competition and apathy have left agencies struggling to define themselves. That’s ironic for an industry that claims to be full of creativity and objective perspective. Their Faustian resistance to use their own product contributes to the slew of press predicting the fall of advertising and the rise of pr, buzz marketing, product placement or whatever fad is next in line to steal some of advertising’s once mighty thunder.

Agencies should ask for help to get that message out and inject a spark back into the business. That would help build far more credibility with clients to use the product they sell. If you disagree, feel free to take out an ad to convince your clients I’m wrong.

Sinek is founder and CEO of SinekPartners, a New York consultancy that helps companies inspire employees and customers to action. He also teaches at Columbia University’s graduate program in strategic communications. Contact:

The Home Exchange Guide now available in downloadable format

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Boca Raton, Florida – Would you like to find free accommodations when you travel using a time tested concept proven effective by half a million people every year? The Home Exchange Guide: How to Find Your Free Home Away From Home (Poyeen Publishing), now available in a downloadable format, is the first how-to guide to home swapping with an online focus. It has been featured in domestic and international media including USA Today, Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Midwest Book Review, Newsweek (Japan), and Vancouver Sun.

The Home Exchange Guide 

The Home Exchange Guide

The book guides readers through the home exchange process to find out:  If they are good exchange candidates; how and where to look for exchangers; what to look for in a home; questions to ask; pitfalls to avoid; how to prepare their home for an exchange; what to expect and do during the exchange; and wrapping up loose ends when the exchange is over. The new downloadable version of the 187-page The Home Exchange Guide: How to Find Your Free Home Away From Home retails for $19.95 and is available directly from the publisher for $14.95 at Poyeen Publishing.

 American home exchangers M.T. Simon and T.T. Baker help travelers find free home accommodations in the United States and abroad by guiding them through the home exchange process. First time and repeat home exchangers can benefit from The Home Exchange Guide: How to Find Your Free Home Away From Home (Poyeen Publishing), which provides an easy-to-follow process anyone with a home can use. Home exchanging, a common practice in the U.S. and abroad for more than 50 years, allows travelers to swap homes with their counterparts in other locations during their vacation or business trip.  Every year, an estimated 250,000 home exchanges take place. For information online about home exchanging, visit


Elena del Valle to speak at Miami Herald 2006 travel conference

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

Hispanic marketing & public relations book editor, Hispanic advertisting expert to speak at Miami Herald travel conference*

 Elena del Valle Amy Rodriguez

Elena del Valle, editor, Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations, and Amy Rodriguez, principal, Volverde & Rodriguez Advertising

Photos: LNA World Communications and Amy Rodriguez

Elena del Valle, editor and contributing author of the Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations book (Poyeen Publishing, $49.95), and Amy Rodriguez, principal, Volverde & Rodriguez Advertising will speak on April 7 at the Miami Herald Travel Experience and Tourism Industry Conference 2006. Del Valle and Rodriguez will address travel industry professionals during a 90-minute presentation entitled “Defining the Hispanic Travel Market.”

The Conference, offered for the first time this year as part of the fourth annual Miami Herald Travel Show, will provide travel professionals, national and international tour operators and regional associations information on the latest trends and travel industry news. Other presenters include Peter Greenberg, Today Show travel editor; Arthur and Pauline Frommer, guidebook authors; Paul Prudhomme, chef; and Doug Duda from A&E Well Seasoned Traveler.

Del Valle is principal of LNA World Communications, a marketing and communications company, where she is responsible for media training, strategic planning and client relations. She is the director and host of the Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast.

A 21 year marketing and public relations veteran, she has worked extensively in health care and with U.S. and international Hispanic markets. Prior to founding her own marketing and public relations firm nine years ago, she was a key member of the health care team and headed the Hispanic practice at the largest independent public relations firm in Florida. Before that, she attended law school nights while she was in charge of domestic and international Hispanic marketing and public relations for a major private South Florida health care company. She is the recipient of the 2004 D. Parke Gibson Pioneer Award Multicultural Communications Professional Interest Section of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the 1988 Up & Comers Award in Public Relations.

Rodriguez has more than 17 years of experience in the U.S. Hispanic market and Latin America. Her focus is on analyzing client needs and providing insightful, highly researched strategic solutions that are culturally relevant to Hispanic consumers; and creating enduring relationships with Hispanic consumers, to fuel long-term growth for brands and services.

She began her career managing national and international efforts for American Airlines in the Caribbean, Latin America and U.S. Hispanic markets. Rodriguez was tapped as vice-president, strategic planning for Accentmarketing, guiding large regional accounts such as Physician Healthcare Plans, and launching Chevrolet’s first major effort in the U.S. Hispanic market. She returned to V & A in 1994, later named The Rodriguez Group, and became partner in 1998 when the company was named agency of record for Visit Florida for the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets. Rodriguez considers herself an expert at navigating local clients through the complete Latino Universe. She completed her Bachelors in Business from Marymount University and her MBA in International Business from George Washington University in Washington.

*Original article published on Reprinted with permission from the publisher.